Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who’s the Boss? YOU Are!

If the events of the past year have taught us anything it’s that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to employment.

I’ve seen people who felt secure and thought that it couldn’t happen to them, have it happen. I’ve seen people stay in jobs that no longer suit them or meet their needs because they are scared to even try to find something else. I have seen people put their heads down (like ostriches) and refuse to even acknowledge the firings, layoffs and downsizing going on around them. Hope is the only weapon in their arsenal.

These people are thinking like employees and in the 21st century that sort of thinking is as outdated as it is detrimental. Even if you never want to own our own business, even if you enjoy the benefits, consistent paycheck and workday routines that come with working for someone, you still need to look at yourself as a business owner. Your business is the business of you.

At its most basic level, you are offering your services in exchange for pay and benefits. It’s just that simple. Your job is to make sure that your services are services that an employer wants. That’s what an interview is. A company is sampling a number of similar products (applicants) to see which one they like best and which will fit best in their company.

You need to make sure that you are doing everything in your power to set yourself apart … even if you are happy where you are and are not looking for a job. You don’t know when you will be looking, so you should always be honing your skills and recording your accomplishments. Besides, these are the same skills that will help you when it’s time for your annual review or when you are up for a promotion.

So what does this mean for your everyday life? What has to change? Probably not much. But keep these things in mind.

1. Write Your Wins: Try to do this as they happen. Think of how difficult it is to prepare for your annual review when you have to remember all of the things you’ve done over the past year. Instead, keep a little document in Word where you can list your accomplishments as you go. Got Employee of the Month? Jot it down. Did you exceed your sales goal for the quarter? Make a note of it. Did you take a record-setting number of calls in one month? Write it down. This will come in handy when preparing for a review or when you are updating your resume.

2. Become a Sponge: In training, a sponge is someone who is in class to absorb as much information as possible. Take every opportunity you can to learn. Take as many classes, seminars and workshops as possible. Definitely take advantage of any training you can get from your company. However, be open to investing in a class or two on your own if need be. Always keep your skills current.

3. Act Like a CEO: It’s not up to your company to take care of you. The only person who will act in your best interest is you. Place your loyalty and your dedication where they belong, with you and not with your company. Give your best at the job you are in; but do it because it’s in your best interest and not because that’s what the company wants. If you see a better opportunity, don’t be afraid to take it out of some misguided sense of company loyalty. If you need a better opportunity, don’t be afraid to look for one and make a move if you find it.

No go ahead and take your place in the big corner office of You, Inc.!

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